Diamond 69: Give me Connections
Diamond 69: Give me Connections
Giovanni and Delia entered the Viridian gym and headed towards the back, past the arena. Giovanni slid a keycard into the electronic lock of a door and pressed a numeric combination on the small pad next to it. The door was unlocked and they were allowed into a small room. The room was occupied by nothing but a little sitting area and an elevator. They took the elevator down to the Rocket headquarters where Giovanni unlocked another door. Both doors were locked behind them.
The long underground corridors brought a heavy sense of deja vu to Delia. It had been many years since she had walked down those tunnels, but she remembered them clearly. "Dudes, you're here!" A familiar voice made Delia's face brighten. Luke rushed down the long hall lined with doors to greet them.
"Luke!" Delia hurried to close the distance between them, greeting Luke with a friendly hug. "It's been so long, I'm really glad you seem to be doing well."
"Yeah, everything's like totally fine, you know?" Luke truly believed that Comet needed rest simply because he had been working too hard. Comet was used to working at night and sleeping during the day, so being awake during the daytime must have also affected him. Luke was completely unaware of the possibility that worried Laiki. He was well aware of Comet's condition, but didn't know of the true dangers associated with it.
Giovanni approached them at a normal pace, "I have some business to take care of, so I'll be busy for a while. Luke, you can take some time off."
Luke's already cheerful face became happier. "Thanks man! I like totally appreciate it, you know?" With only a tired nod, Giovanni went on his way.
"We have so much to talk about," Delia pushed her thoughts about Binks to the back of her mind for the time being. She wanted to have a happy reunion with Luke.
"Like totally!" Luke cheered, "let's like go into like one of the conference rooms, you know? We can like sit there and like no one will interrupt, you know?"
The two friends found an empty conference room to occupy. The floor matched the metal of the halls and the walls were bare. The table was moist as if it had been recently cleaned. The standard black chairs with wheels were nothing particularly elegant. They resembled what could be found in any office, but they were comfortable enough. "Where to start?" There was simply too much to be said. "I met your son, he told you, right?"
"Yeah," Luke's face was filled with pride at the mention of his son. "Comet's like a good boy, you know?" The phrase would contradict what other people would think. "I like mean he's like totally a good Rocket, you know? He's like a good son, you know?"
"I know what you mean," Delia smiled, "he reminds me a lot of you. You two look almost identical." Their faces were especially similar. Their eye and hair color was also exactly the same. Comet's haircut was slightly longer than Luke's, but still relatively short. Their skin tone was their only real difference, aside from their age.
"I like hear that a lot, you know?" Luke laughed. "Comet like grew up here, like in Team Rocket, you know?"
A flicker of sadness passed through Delia's eyes at the thought of Ash. He, unlike Comet, had grown up without his father. "Was it difficult?" That was not the question Delia meant to ask. "I mean... not to pry." It was too late to take it back.
"It's like okay. You can like ask me like anything, you know?" Luke assured. He thought back at Comet's younger years. "I like didn't see him much when he was like little," Luke confessed. "I like had my missions, you know?" He might as well be honest about it, or as honest as he could be. Delia must have been waiting to know what had happened since the last time they saw each other.
"I remember your letter," Delia recalled. "I was so glad that you wrote to me that time. I wish I could have written back, but I know it was impossible," the memory was bittersweet.
Luke maintained a cheerful expression, "it's like okay now. Do you like remember the Beedrill I like wrote about?" Delia nodded and Luke continued. "She's like still around. She like guards the forest with her bug pokemon friends, you know? If Giovanni like calls her, she like totally comes right away, man!" Luke smiled proudly speaking of the pokemon he had trained.
"That's amazing," Delia was glad they had falling into a relaxed conversation. "Maybe I can meet her some day."
"How about like right now?" Luke offered getting up. "Giovanni like knows where I am. He like won't mind. We're just like going to the forest like near by, you know?"
The fresh air of the forest sounded like a very welcoming prospect. Plus Delia was really glad the atmosphere between her and Luke felt so similar to old times. "Let's go," she happily agreed.
The way out of the Rocket headquarters was different since Luke was in his Team Rocket uniform. They went out through a secret passage in the forest. The umbrella of trees shielded them from the bright sun, allowing the breeze to pass through the leaves.
"Queen! Like come here dudette!" Luke waited a moment and listened to the buzzing of the bug pokemon near by. It seemed that they were relaying the summoning. A few minutes later, a Beedrill arrived, majestically flying in front of Luke. She had a certain deadly elegance to her. "It's like good to see you again, Queen," Luke petted the pokemon gently. "I like want to like introduce you to Delia."
"Nice to meet you, Queen." She greeted with a friendly smile.
Luke had introduced this human to her so she must be an ally of Team Rocket. To Queen, Team Rocket was a band of humans who protected the forest. They expanded it to make sure their home wasn't lost to the city. "Beedrill!" She greeted energetically. "Beedrill, beedrill!"
More buzzing sounds followed as the bug pokemon's message relay system was put into effect. When a pokemon heard someone calling out, they repeated the message passing it forward. The message would echo through the forest in that way. Eventually, it would reach its target as long as the receiver was in the forest. An answer would then be transmitted in the same way.
"She's like calling someone, you know?" Luke had a good guess about who would come, "I like think she wants to like introduce you to her family, you know?"
A younger male Beedrill and a Butterfree around his age arrived. They exchanged a few words in their language with Queen and flew near Delia.
"It's very nice to meet you all," she gently petted the pokemon. They seemed to get a trust worthy impression from her.
"This is like Queen's son, Prince," Luke introduced, "and this Butterfree is like his lady love, Pretty. She was like caught by Pixel, one of Comet's friends, when she was like a Caterpie. Then Pixel like let her go after she like evolved into Butterfree, so she could like be with Prince, you know?"
The story reminded Delia of when Ash freed his own Butterfree. "I've met Pixel before," Delia smiled. "She's seemed like a good girl... a good Rocket I mean."
"She like is, even if she's still like a rookie in like some ways, you know?" They all sat in the nice atmosphere of the forest to have a long talk. "Like where have you been like all this time? Did you like stay in Pallet Town?" Luke got things started.
Delia saved her questions about Luke and his family for later and first old her story. "Yes, I never left Pallet Town," Delia remembered her first few weeks there. It had been difficult, but she persevered. "Maybe you've heard by now, Giovanni and I have a son."
Luke nodded, with a small flicker of sadness barely perceptible in his blue eyes. "Ash, I like wanted to ask about him, you know?"
"He's a pokemon trainer aiming to be a master," Delia always smiled when she thought of Ash. "He can be pretty stubborn and always wants to be the best at everything, just like you-know-who. He grew up in Pallet Town and went on a journey when he was a few months away from his eleventh birthday. It wasn't easy letting him go, but I'm glad he was able to see the world. He got engaged recently to Misty from the Cerulean gym. He really has grown up so fast in my eyes."
Luke felt identified with that, "that's like how it is, kids like grow up fast, you know? Then like the next thing you like know, they're not kids anymore, you know? I like guess I shouldn't like really say that. I like only saw Comet a little when he was young," there was no real bitterness in his voice; albeit a hint of regret was present.
"You had some dangerous missions, that's understandable," Delia decided to be accepting. She knew Luke was a good person and she could never judge him harshly for staying in Team Rocket. Besides, if Comet's mother was a Rocket as well, then where else would Comet go? "So Comet stayed with his mom most of the time?" Delia couldn't deny the fact that she was curious.
Doubt overtook Luke for a fleeting moment and he looked away. He looked back at Delia instantly, hoping she didn't notice the change, but she did. "She like passed away."
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Delia felt bad for having asked. She didn't want to bring painful memories to Luke.
"It's like okay; it was like a long time ago," Luke tried to lighten the conversation again. "She was like..." he paused in deep thought, "I'd like to say she was like a lot like you..."
The hidden meaning of the words was completely lost on Delia as she tried to steer the conversation towards a more cheerful topic.
xoxox xox xoxox
Inside the Viridian Rocket headquarters, Giovanni was studying the report about Mirta's journal with the four Rocket executives. They were all reading from black laptops with red Rs.
"Interesting, they were able to identify what entries referred to Akira, or rather Secura, even if no names were mentioned on the journal," Ariana observed. It was probably done as a measure of privacy. That way only the one who wrote the journal would be able to easily interpret it.
Mirta's journal spoke of many of the children she took care of in the orphanage at Vermilion City. Without any names being mentioned, it was difficult to find the proper entries. The report referred to various excerpts and the pages where they were found. It seemed that Mirta had stopped writing years ago, but she didn't write too often to begin with, thus there were big gaps between the dates. The journal must have been forgotten, to be rediscovered and used again at a later date, soon to be stored away once more.
The first excerpt in the report referred to page fifty, the journal pages had been numbered for convenience. "I failed to keep her here, the girl entrusted to me in a stormy night. She has gone with a man who offered her fame." All the entries were written in a similar ambiguous fashion. Taking Akira's history with her agent into account, it could be concluded that she was the girl entrusted to Mirta in a stormy night. That was the main clue.
The journals pages were filled with references to children in such ways. The girl entrusted to me in a stormy night, the boy with bright eyes, the girl with long hair, the child of cold December and other such pseudonyms. The next excerpt was from page ten. There was more written in-between about Secura's childhood, but such mundane stories were irrelevant to the investigation. "I'll never forget that stormy night. She came to me and entrusted me with her child. I begged her to stay with the girl, but she refused. Leaving her with me was the best she could do for her daughter, she insisted. How I wish for you to see the light, you who are of the same family as I am."
Among a sea of words, those few sentences held the key to unlocking Akira's past as Secura and her origin. Secura's mother entrusted her to Mirta. That woman happened to be related to Mirta. From that point on an investigation was conducted on Mirta. Hacking the citizen databases was easy with some help from Prism. Pixel's Porygon generally preferred to reside in her computer and rarely came out.
The discovery from the journal was quite interesting. Mirta Stass had a relative who stood out, her name was Aayla Stass. The name was familiar to Laiki and she knew the executives and boss would be able to reach conclusions with that information. The last part of the report included a peculiar file hacked from the Vermilion City hospital. Aayla Stass had checked in to give birth, but her child was supposedly stillborn. The baby would have been the same age as Secura. Reading through the journal was very time consuming to find those little clues. Archer had announced that he needed the report right away, thus Laiki declared that it was enough.
At first Giovanni was disappointed by the short length of the report. However, that short report spoke volumes to those who knew of the past. The four executives remained silent as realization washed over them. The journal was a collection of sporadic thoughts, yet it all fell into place.
Everything made perfect sense. When her daughter was born, Aayla was still with Tempest. Rumors had run through the streets in the past that someone was expecting a child from the leader of Tempest, Venom. They apparently turned out to be nothing but rumors, but that wasn't true. With all the information that had been gathered, it could be concluded that Aayla did give birth to Venom's child. The baby turned out to be Secura, who was later known as Akira. She grew up with Mirta in the Vermilion orphanage, without knowing they were related. Maybe Venom had experimented with his unborn child. Perhaps Aayla felt guilty and faked her daughter's death, secretly leaving her in Mirta's care.
"What were you talking about when I came in here?" Giovanni's mind was racing.
Petrel thought back to the specific point in time in which Giovanni entered the conference room. "I was complaining about my water bottle being warm."
That detail was enough to set Proton's mind in motion. "Then I said, at least you can still drink it, unlike the water from the stream that killed a bunch of pokemon. Petrel asked which stream, and I said the one between Pewter and Cerulean. It was something I saw on the news."
Archer followed their train of thought as if they were all connected, "let's not jump to conclusions."
"It's not such a big jump," Giovanni thought about the worse possibility. "Akira's blood was in that stream, I saw her bleed into it. She's Venom's daughter, this could mean-" The sound of Giovanni's and all four executive's laptops interrupted in perfect unison. The devices were letting them know that an urgent report had reached their inboxes.
They quickly opened the encrypted message from the laboratories, entering IDs and passwords. The conference room fell silent as they all read. Their expressions were mirrors of surprise and worry.
"As I thought, Akira's blood contains a virus that kills pokemon," Giovanni voiced. "This could be worse than last time. The only reason the epidemic ended was because we found the data for the antidote. We know nothing about this. Back then, we searched for more data that could be useful. If we didn't find any, it might not exist. Figuring out how to control this will be much more difficult if a full breakout occurs."
"It makes sense," Proton recalled what Poisona said, "Poisona hates pokemon. Getting rid of them is most likely her goal."
Archer was in deep thought, "I suggest concentrating Team Rocket's resources on this before it gets out of hand."
"I second that," Ariana voiced. Proton and Petrel nodded, the action was unquestionable.
"Yes, we have to do something about this immediately," Giovanni agreed. "I want a team investigating the area right away. Find out how the virus spreads. No one from Team Rocket will enter that area with Pokemon; I don't want the infection reaching any of the bases." Giovanni paused as he came to a realization. "Get Akira out of here immediately and isolate her. I want this place clean of any traces of that virus!"
Persian was born at the end of the crisis and didn't fully understand what was going on. He knew it was serious and it was bad, that much was certain.
xoxox xox xoxox
In Pallet Town, Ash had finally escaped from Belle for a while. After Giovanni and his mother left, Ash returned to his previous task of helping Gary put Belle to sleep. Their off key lullaby succeeded in making Belle shut up, though she was wide awake and twitching. Fearing that the duet would continue, the Bellsprout wisely decided to remain quiet. She was staying at the Oak research lab, while Ash went home to talk to Misty on the phone.
Tango music played while Mimey danced with the vacuum cleaner as he cleaned the house. That pokemon could be quite a neat freak at times, and sometimes just a freak. Ash passed by quietly, deciding not to disturb Mimey, and went up the stairs to his room. The room was the same as ever. It still had the same pale green walls, the same blue carpet and matching blue curtains.
The small TV in the corner was rather outdated, but still worked. Unlike the one downstairs in the living room, it had not been replaced for a newer model. A big Snorlax shaped pillow was on the floor in front of it. The bunk bed was neatly made, courtesy of Mimey. The shelves were packed with various things. Books, figurines and pokemon shaped things lined the wooden furniture. The collection included a winged Rapidash Christmas ornament. A faded poster on the wall showed the three starter pokemon from Kanto.
Ash lay down on his bed with his cell phone to his ear after pressing the speed dial. Misty answered on the first ring. "Ash, can we talk now?"
"Sure," he didn't realize how urgent she sounded. Ash didn't pause before getting started on his narration of the day's happenings. "Remember what I told you about Belle yesterday? She was still crying non-stop today. I had Gary babysit for a while, but then he told me that Belle was mine because Mrs. Alderaan's will said so. It's probably because she liked mom's cooking and I used to be the delivery boy before I left on my journey. At least we got Belle to keep quiet by singing to her. Honestly, I'm not sure if she cheered up or if she stop crying so we would stop singing. If that's the reason then it was Gary's fault for being off key," all in all Ash was more off key than Gary.
Misty listened to Ash's narration without getting a word in, she didn't even try. She allowed him to vent for a while.
"When you called me today, I was going to tell you about Jigglypuff," Ash continued. "To start the story from the beginning, I was at home with Belle and went out for some fresh air. Then I found Giovanni right in front of the house. He has the coolest orange car I've ever seen. That reminded me that I should start saving for a new car. What do you think about orange? The color never really caught my attention until just now. I guess there's time to decide. Red, indigo, orange, any of those would be nice."
Ash made a small pause before he went on with his previous narration, "I challenged Giovanni to a pokemon battle and he agreed. We went to Professor Oak's place for the battle because there's lots of room there. Maybe I should say Gary's place, since he's the one running the lab now and he does live there."
Setting the tiny details aside, Ash continued, "we talked for a while and I told him about what happened in Saffron City. He seemed interested. I started to feel weird because it is kind of odd to think that mom's dating someone. At the same time it's not, I mean we all get along just fine. I started feeling comfortable again later."
After again deviating from the story Ash returned to it, "about our battle, we didn't even get started! I just stood there ready to call out my first pokemon when Jigglypuff had to ruin it all. It was going to be a six on six battle! It was going to be epic! Giovanni was pretty angry at having his face painted, but I bet he's laughing about it now." Ash would have lost that bet. "The part that I didn't find amusing in the least was missing my battle. After that, we got cleaned up and Gary returned with Belle. He was babysitting while I battled, except I never got around to battle," Ash emphasized with a pout.
"Than finally, Giovanni had to leave and mom went with him. Gary and I sang to Belle and she's staying at his place right now. I decided to go home and take a break. I remembered to call you so we could continue our conversation from earlier today," Ash smiled, proud of himself for having remembered. He knew Misty liked those little details, albeit he often missed his chances to seize the moment. "Do you think they're on a date right now?" He referred to Giovanni and his mother. "It doesn't bother me, but should it? I don't even know anything about my father. Mom said she would tell me. Then one thing led to another and I forgot. Is it okay to think Giovanni's cool when I don't even know my own father? At the same time, it feels natural, almost as if he was my father," but he wasn't, as far as Ash knew.
Misty sighed, she had called to seek Ash's support, but it looked like he needed her support. "I think you should talk to her. I don't know about your mom's past. Maybe it's difficult for her to talk about your father. Even so, you have the right to know. I'm sure she understands that. Just try to talk to her when you have a moment alone. It's okay that you enjoy being with Giovanni. It's good that you two are getting along and I'm sure Delia appreciates that."
"You're right," Ash agreed with new found determination. "Belle kind of got in the way last time, but not anymore. When mom comes back, I'll ask her directly. I'm sure she'll tell me the whole story if I insist." Ash left his cell phone on his pillow, allowing his eyes to close. Pikachu was comfortably resting on the big Snorlax shaped pillow. He relaxed and let sleep overtake him.
"Ash?" Misty heard the rhythm of Ash's breathing. She was familiar with it after years of camping out together. "Don't fall asleep now," she whispered. "I haven't told you what I'm worried about." She took a deep breath, she had worries to share too, and they were serious, "Ash Ketchum, wake up!" Misty yelled into her cell phone.
Ash jumped awake and sat up on his bed. His nap lasted only a few seconds. He picked up his cell phone from his pillow and yawned. "Misty? Are you still there?"
"Yes, I'm still here," Misty was getting a little annoyed, but maintained a calm tone of voice. "My sisters had a talk with me about keeping secrets. I don't even know the full details and I already have secrets to keep."
Ash's curiosity was captured, "secrets? What kind of secrets?"
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon. The description of Ash's room is based on episode one of the first series. There's some irony when Delia says Ash grew up fast, in the anime he hasn't really grown up much. From the first scene in Diamond 47 we know that Comet does eventually recover. The real question is what is affecting him and what will need to be done about it? There will be surprises! In case you missed the hint, yeah, Luke never got over his crush on Delia. No, he's not going to make a move, he respects Gio a lot and wouldn't dare try to steal Delia, just as he didn't try in the past.